White Fronted Amazon

Amazona albifrons

by Sally Blanchard

» At about 10" and 7 1/2oz, the White-fronts are one of the smallest Amazons.
» White-fronts are sexually dimorphic; the hens have no red on the wings.
» Ranges include western Mexico to northwestern Costa Rica
» They are considered stable in their range.

Back in the late 1980s, I tamed several of these little gems for a local bird shop. One time I had seven in my house at one time. They were such enchanting little busy bodies; I couldn’t help but think of this group of toddlers as the Seven dwarfs. I think these curious parrots are absolutely delightful ... a literal handful. White-fronts can be excellent talkers but tend to have a somewhat comical voice. Out of the group I was working with, at least half of them went back to the bird shop saying a few words. I have met several of these fun little parrots and I have come very close to bringing one home with me. I have enjoyed them so much, I am surprised that I never brought one into my life as a permanent companion.

Far too many of the White-fronts that came into the United States were smuggled because they come from Mexico and Central America. A few years ago, I actually met a woman who had brought a young White-front across the border in her purse. Like many people, she simply didn’t understand why buying the bird in a street market in Nogales and bringing her into the United States was a problem. She only kept the bird for a year and then sold it to a bird shop. Even after I explained what smuggling parrots was all about, she still didn’t get it.

The White-front is often mistakenly referred to as the Spectacled Amazon because the red coloration on the face usually circles the eyes. The actual Red-spectacled Amazon (Amazona pretrei) is from southern Brazil and CITES Appendix 1 endangered. White-fronts are sexually dimorphic which means that the hen and cock can be visually identified. The hens are usually not as colorful and have no red on the wing and may generally be a bit mellower than the males.  

Go ahead and ask me ... which Amazon species is my favorite? Ask me which one I had the most fun working with when I tamed wild-caught parrots? Some days I might give a different answer but White-fronts have been one of my absolute favorite Amazons ever since the first time I met one. In the mid-1980s, I had several young wild-caught White-fronts in my home for over a week. I was taming them for a bird shop. I would sit quietly and they just wander around all over me even though I hadn’tworked with them yet; they must have thought I was a tree trunk. They were such little imps; I wanted to name them after the seven dwarfs. It took me about fifteen minutes to get any one of them on my hand ad they were just fun; no biting, just intense curiosity. Of all the Amazons I have worked with, these little guys responded most profoundly to my lowered energy. Once I calmed down, it was almost as if they sleepwalked onto my hand. If I had no sense at all, I would have kept them all and turned my spare room over to them. I would also have spent half of my waking hours in the room playing with them. After a week, my common sense returned and they went back to the bird shop. I missed them but I did have a real life to go back to.

These diminutive parrots can be absolutely delightful with both their healthy curiosity and an independence that keeps them occupied when their caregivers are not available. With their size and sense of adventure, they are a literal handful. While they may not have a reputation for being good talkers, out of the first group I tamed, three left my house saying a few words. They tend to talk with a possessed little voice, but I have known quite a few of these Amazons who say quite a few words and phrases. They can be a bit loud and shrill but than can be worked with. I can’t remember meeting any White-fronted Amazon who wasn’t eager to play and their play can be quite comical. I enjoy these great little parrots so much that it surprises me that I never had one for a companion. The only reason this is true is that one never came along when I could take one in. I have also been amazed that these fantastic little birds are not a much more popular companion parrot.  I believe that this little gem is one of the most underrated of all of the Amazons!




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